Weekend Briefing No. 53

Welcome to the weekend. I’m back in snowy Cambridge, MA this weekend for the Harvard Social Enterprise Conference. I’m loving connecting with friends – new and old. If you are here, hit me up on Twitter and come say hi.

Last week we sent out a survey to learn more about you, and the response was overwhelming (about 10x what I expected). Thanks so much for sharing. If you were one of the few people that didn’t fill out the survey, linked here, your last opportunity is today. As we are a start-up, your insight will have a tangible impact on the direction of the Weekend Briefing, so please take a second to fill it out. I really value your input, so I’m offering a Starbucks gift card to say thanks.




Most innovative companies of 2015. Fast Company just released the Most Innovative Companies of 2015. For the second year in a row, a client and friend of mine was on the cover; a big congrats to Neil Blumenthal and Warby Parker. I love to see companies that are blending profit & purpose continue to succeed. Once, the B Corporation certification was viewed by hard-core business­people as a laudable (or laugh­able) designation. Not anymore. Now, high-growth, socially conscious companies such as InVenture (No. 13), Revolution Foods (No. 39), and Kickstarter prove that B Corporations can be A-list. You may also be interested in the Most Innovative Companies in Africa or 20 lessons of innovation for 2015.


Why Sleep is a Strategic Resource. Although we often convince ourselves that missing a few hours of sleep here and there is no big deal, the literature suggests that doing so creates problems. In fact, missing even one hour of sleep per night has been linked to memory declines, increases in workplace injuries and “cyberloafing.” Learn more in this article from the MIT Sloane Management Review.


Closing the Loop. Forty-percent of American consumers still do not have easy access to recycling bins — mainly because municipalities lack funds needed to build infrastructure for single-stream recycling. It’s a cyclical problem: without recycling programs, municipalities are spending more — a lot more — on waste management. For instance in 2013, low recycling rates caused cities to spend more than $7 billion on landfills and lose out on more than the $11 billion that could have been earned from selling recycled materials. The Closed Loop Fund / Foundation is working to solve that problem by funding recycling infrastructure. Through a philanthropic foundation and a $100 million fund with investors like P&G, Unilever, Coca-Cola, Pepsi and Walmart, they just might be able to put a dent in this problem. For the last year I’ve been working with the Closed Loop team to structure this venture. I’m looking forward to seeing the impact it will have. Click here to read an op-ed from Unilever and P&G.


Skills for social entrepreneurship. According to a Wharton and McKinsey, only 32% of social sector leaders are confident in their ability to both innovate and implement. Only 22% of them think their peer leaders in the sector can do this. Only 18% of leaders say they manage their outcomes and commit to quality improvement; they also believe that fewer than 25% of their peers do. There is a skills gap. Jonathan Lewis is launching a two-week course at NYU to address this gap. The course is about social entrepreneurial problem-solving and will arm you with some of the practical, nitty-gritty skills required for a value-centered career to empower your inner change agent and  to make a difference starting right now.


Periodic table of Venture Capital blogs. This is a resource for entrepreneurs, investors and those in the larger innovation economy.  It highlights 89 active bloggers (defined as blogging at least a couple times in the past year) in the venture capital, angel and accelerator community. Click here for the periodic table.

LOVE. The LOVE bracelet was designed by my friend, Chrissie Lam in collaboration with a social Kenyan social enterprise working with the Maasai in Kenya called LIFE Line, which empowers the people of Kenya through job creation. Chrissie has taken this bracelet around the world asking people she met along the way what love is for an upcoming web series on the Discovery Channel (more on that soon). These hand-beaded bracelets are on shelves at American Eagle, learn more here.

China is Africa’s #1 business partner and this infographic proves it.


Five Changes Being Driven By Zero Marginal Cost. Zero marginal cost describes a situation where an additional unit of a good or service can be produced without any increase in the total cost of production. If you want to understand the impact on society, watch this 10-minute talk from Union Square Ventures partner Albert Wenger. Thanks to Fred Wilson for sharing this.


New York Start-up Index. Mattermark has rated the top New York start-ups by funding, team growth & online mindshare among other metrics. Click here to see the rankings.



Based on your feedback, this week we’re introducing a new section highlighting the most important stories in the Weekend Briefing from the previous month.


18 mistakes that kill start-ups. As a founder of Y Combinator, Paul Graham has seen his fair share of failed start-ups. But why do start-ups fail? Broadly start-ups fail because they don’t give users what they want, but this list of 18 mistakes points a finer point on the answer to that question. Check out Paul Graham’s list of fatal mistakes.


Most clear picture ever taken of space. NASA has released its largest, most detailed image of space ever. Taken by the Hubble Space Telescope, it captures the Andromeda Galaxy, one of our nearest galactic neighbors at a mere 2.5 million light years away.


Impact investing. Impact investing – investing with the expectation of creating both profit and purpose – is starting to take root in the mainstream. One only needs to open up David Brooks’ New York Times column on Tuesday to see evidence of this. I’d highly recommend this piece if you are trying to understand what the buzz is all about. He delivers a balanced view of the asset class.


Is Silicon Valley focused on trivial problems? Silicon Valley used to think big—the integrated circuit, personal computers, the Internet. Are we really leveraging all that intellectual power and creativity to invent Instagram and dating apps? Is this truly going to change the world? Could the next generation of innovation – internet of things, autonomous vehicles & drones – have a greater positive impact on the world? Maybe. Maybe not. According to Reid Hoffman, founder of LinkedIn, those challenges don’t mesh with Valley VCs’ expectations that companies start quickly, with low capital costs, and have the potential to scale up tremendously. “There’s a lot of things that we aren’t good at here.” Learn more in this MIT Technology Review article.




The Weekend Briefing is a selection of the best stories from around the web about innovation and society curated by Kyle Westaway – author of Profit & Purpose and Managing Partner of Westaway & Co.


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I’m interested in your thoughts. If you have any story ideas, questions or just want to say hi, just hit reply to this email. I’m looking forward to chatting with you. If you have friends that would like the Weekend Briefing, please forward it along. They can subscribe for free here. Follow me on twitter and instagram for updates throughout the week.

– Kyle Westaway